With my map and cameras back in the passenger seat, I set off to see what the Flint Hills had to offer me on this gorgeous, blue sky Saturday. I drove to the nearest town, at the edge of which, there is a sign boasting “Matfield Green Next Five Exits.” I have been told the now official sign was once hand made. It struck me this community must be very proud of their town to put up such a sign.
According to the map, I was supposed to go past all five exits, then take a left at the other end of town and make my way out into the Flint Hills. I have seen little towns like this all across the state of Kansas, they have always barely registered as a “bump in the road” but something about this little town asking you to consider exiting the highway not just once, but five times intrigued me.
I felt compelled to take a detour and drive through Matfield Green. I discovered that the five exits are the east/west streets of town; there are another 6 streets running north/south. Eleven streets… now that is a small town!
Just as you enter town, there is a an old bank building, it’s obvious the building no longer serves as a bank but it is not a vacant building, either. Curious about what sort of business it is now, I did some research. After standing empty for 50 years, the building is now The Bank Art Space. A meeting place with hot coffee, rare books and contemporary art. A town with 47 residents has an art space? How cool is that? Unfortunately, the space was closed for winter, so I made a mental note to stop in for a visit in the spring.
I drove past a closed elementary school with a big swing set and a metal slide on the playground. I could almost hear the kids playing as I remembered my school day recesses. Swinging as high as I could, feeling the chains go slack at the top of the arc, then snapping back as I started to fall. Risking the burns from the metal slide after the hot Kansas sun had been beating down on it all day. Climbing to the top of the monkey bars to hang by my knees. As I’m writing this, I am kicking myself for not stopping for a little recess break.
Several houses had an artistic flair to them that you wouldn’t expect to see in a small Kansas town. This made Matfield Green even more intriguing. One house in particular caught my attention. Despite the curtains in the windows and the Christmas lights around the door, the house looked vacant and was in desperate need of a paint job. From the front, it looked like a regular old two story house, on the side, someone had built an odd little addition that I still can’t quite figure out.
I had two thoughts sitting there looking at the house; I wonder if it’s for sale and I bet it’s haunted. That thought is usually enough to get my imagination running wild. Before I could convince myself that I had seen a curtain move or a door creak open, I snapped a couple pictures of the house and ran for the hills.